WARNING: LOCALLY INVASIVE SPECIES
Common Name: chocolate vine
Native Range: Japan, China, Korea
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 20.00 to 40.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 9.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Chocolate-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Deer, Heavy Shade, Erosion
Easily grown in most soils. Best in well-drained sandy loams with regular moisture in full sun to part shade. Prefers full sun, but tolerates close to full shade. Also tolerates some drought. Needs a support structure upon which to grow unless grown as a ground cover. For best fruit production, plant more than one vine to facilitate good cross-pollination. Many experts recommend hand-pollination. Prune as needed in late spring after flowers appear. May be cut to the ground to renovate. Foliage is semi-evergreen in warm winter climates. Grows rapidly and can suffocate shrubs or other vegetation if not kept in check.
Fiveleaf akebia is a deciduous, twining, woody vine that rapidly grows to 20-40’. It produces compound palmate leaves, each with 5 elliptic to oblong-obovate leaflets (1-3” long) which are dark green above and glaucous below. Small chocolate-purple flowers bloom in drooping axillary racemes in spring. Flowers are monoecious, with both staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers appearing in the same raceme. Flowers are often hidden by the foliage, but are quite interesting on close inspection and have a pleasant fragrance. Flowers give way to sausage-shaped, violet fruit pods (to 4” long) which split open in fall to reveal small black seeds imbedded in a whitish pulp. The whitish pulp is edible. Native to China, Korea and Japan, but has escaped cultivation and naturalized in parts of the eastern U.S. Sometimes commonly called chocolate vine.
No serious insect or disease problems. Rampant growth can be a problem.
Provides quick cover in sun or shade for trellises, fences, arbors, pergolas and walls. May also be sprawled over the ground as a ground cover to camouflage rock piles or old tree stumps or to provide soil stabilization for banks. An excellent ground cover for shady areas and woodland gardens.